Autumn means it is book fair season around the world, but with everyone excited about the ability to likely meet in person this year, fairs must still consider the pandemic that looms in the back of everyone’s minds. Recently, The New Atlantic and Southern Independent Booksellers Associations collaborated for their second annual virtual conference. However, parts of the world are in different places than the US regarding the pandemic, and book fairs in Europe are taking advantage of the ability to meet in person.
Back in March of this year, the popular Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany announced that this year’s festivities will take place using a hybrid model. After last year’s digital fair welcomed 200,000 users, the fair’s director, Jürgen Boos, wanted to invite participants to experience the magic of books in person, if circumstances allowed. In addition, the German government helped fund the fair, allowing for cheaper ticket fees. All stands are larger to further separate the people operating them, and the hallways of the exhibition halls were widened to allow for social distancing. The fair will also open a day earlier than usual to allow crowds to spread out over five days, instead of four. In case visitors are not comfortable showing up in person, the fair will also be holding virtual events that ticket-holders can attend from home.
The Madrid Book Fair held earlier in September saw success, despite pandemic-era limitations. While attendance dropped 80 percent since the last in-person fair in 2019, sales only dropped by 10 percent. Statistics showed that even though there were only 384,000 visitors, they still managed to spend 911 million euros (or 10.6 million USD) on books. It seems visitors were so excited to get back in an in-person fair, that their excitement manifested in the form of book-buying (but that’s normal for us bookish people, right?)
Overall, it seems that book fairs are still successful because visitors are just so excited to get back to in-person events. We can only imagine what fairs will look like once the world gets to a more normal place following the pandemic.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA BBC